When I first retired, I tried not to grin too broadly in public because I didn’t want to seem gloating. It was delightful just to be free of my job. I didn’t need to set the alarm, and I could spend as much time as I liked simply looking out of the window. But I wanted to use my leisure for some more exciting adventures, too.

Because I love gardening and visiting beautiful gardens, I planned before I re-tired that when I did I would travel to as many great public gardens as possible. I even mapped out possible itineraries where I could drive a maximum of five hours in a day, have a good dinner and a hotel stay then visit a great garden and maybe a museum the next day, stay overnight again and drive to another one the next day.

There are great public gardens in every state. From Pittsburgh, where I was liv-ing, I could travel in a long oval to Columbus, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Lexington, Wheeling, and home again for a beautiful 10-day trip. I could plan other 10-day trips with a plane ride to and rental car start from Atlanta, or Richmond, or any number of cities.

Guess what? I didn’t take any such trips. Instead I discovered that I loved doing colored pencil art and that classes for this were held in vacation settings like Hawaii and on cruise ships. I joined the Colored Pencil Society of America and took classes at their conventions in Daytona Beach and Tacoma.

I enrolled in a 2-week botanical art class at the National Tropical Botanical Gar-den on Kauai where I shared a house with five other students for about $200. I also had a five-day Caribbean cruise with colored pencil classes on the three days at sea and a similar one to Alaska. My most local chapter of the CPSA meets in Cincinnati so I’ve gone there for classes a few times, too.

Now that travel is ill-advised, I’m working on my art projects at home and I’m gardening more than ever. Since I live in Bristol Village I can help with the miniature garden at the Railroad House and maybe soon at the Hummingbird Garden within the Glenn Center. Most of my gardening, however, is in my cutting garden, a bucket list endeavor, which provides flowers for lots of bouquets to give away to my gardening friends.

Eventually I’d like to take some of those public garden road trips, but for now I’m living another dream and I’m grateful. Retirement is beautiful.

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